By CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid
In wake of the recent extremist attack in Belgium, dehumanization of Muslims is on the rise both overtly and subtly in our national discourse. GOP presidential nominee hopefuls Senator Ted Cruz (R – TX) and Donald Trump have used the horrible event as a means to ratchet up more anti-Muslim hate.
Previously they both have advocated for banning Syrian Muslim refugees to America despite not a single Syrian refugee being involved in the Paris attack last year which triggered their statements. Trump has called for special ID cards for American Muslims and even the ability to close down mosques. Now Cruz and Trump have called for special law enforcement patrols in Muslim neighborhoods in America.
American Muslims had nothing to do with the extremist attack in Belgium just as having nothing to do with the horror of Paris last year. American Muslim leaders, nonetheless, denounced those attacks and many others despite them not taking place in America nor American Muslims having any culpability in those crimes. These facts, however, are erased while Islamophobia continues to be ginned up. Likewise, American Muslims are charged with carrying the undue expectation to condemn extremist attacks in Europe which are anti-Islam by nature. On the flip side, Christians in America are never expected, nor should they be required, to condemn violence perpetrated by co-religionists half way across the globe like the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda and the Congo, and Christian militias in the Central African Republic.
Prior to the attack in Belgium, similar carnage was met by the people of Turkey and the Ivory Coast. Attacks similar or greater in scope to Belgium have also touched the people of Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Iraq, Niger, Nigeria, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen this year. Since over ninety percent of casualties of violent extremism have been Muslims in recent time, discussions from politicians about these victims are virtually nonexistent. Muslim lives in Africa and Asia simply do not matter as much in our national consciousness in comparison to Europeans.
The road which our country is traveling upon is very dangerous, not due to the threat of attacks against the homeland as much as the hate being stirred up against Americans based upon race, national origin and religious identities. Demagoguery helps certain candidates in the polls and in raising funds. Physical and rhetorical violence has become common place at too many political rallies. Hate group recruitment is on the rise. And now Muslims, who helped build this nation since the first Africans were brought here on slave ships to being involved in groundbreaking medical and technological research today are being treated like second class citizens.
The silent majority of Americans who are against racism and religious bigotry must stand up. We may not be able to fix problems half way across the world. We do, however, have the agency to put our country on the right course again. Not doing so could lead us back to a darker era in American history such as when Japanese Americans were dehumanized and had the civil rights stripped from them during World War II.